What Kind of Love

They deserted Him when He needed them the most.  One betrayed Him…with a kiss.  Another denied three times that he even knew Him. 

(And these were His friends.) 

But He “…loved them to the end.”  (John 13:1b) 

What kind of love is this?

They arrested Him on trumped up charges.  Mocked and mistreated Him.  Sentenced Him to an excruciating death. 

He prayed for them.

(And these were His enemies.) 

“Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) 

What kind of love is this?

I’m not that different from either one.  I fail Him when I bow my head in slumber instead of prayer.  I deny Him when I let fear of what others might think silence my voice.  I mock Him when I pay mere lip service to His commands.  I crucify Him all over again when I yield to the flesh instead of the Spirit.

(And I claim to be His follower.)

Yet He assures me that  “…where sin increased, grace abounded all the more…” (Romans 5:20)

What kind of love is this?

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

Amazing love! 

How can it be…that thou, My God, should die…for me?

 

 

(Lyrics are from “And Can It Be” by Charles Wesley.  All Scripture references are from The New American Standard Version.)

 

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‘R’ Rated Eggs

(Bet THAT title got your attention!) Yesterday I retrieved our “Resurrection Eggs” from their storage bin in the basement.  I wanted to make sure they were ready for our Easter brunch this Sunday.  If you’re not familiar with them, they are a tool designed to teach children about the events leading up to the resurrection of Christ.  They consist of a carton of brightly colored plastic eggs, each egg containing a small object and a corresponding Scripture which explains its significance.  We’ve made this a part of our family’s Easter celebration for years.

But for some reason, this year, as I inspected the contents of each egg, I was struck by how gruesome the story actually is.  It’s just not that family friendly.  It easily contains enough violence to earn an ‘R’ rating.  I can see why many families prefer fluffy chicks and hopping bunnies at Easter.  They’re much more cheery.

The Resurrection Eggs tell a graphic story of…

Betrayal:  A cup, foreshadowing rejection.  A feather, representing disloyalty.  Thirty pieces of silver, purchasing treachery.

Violence:  Leather strips, for a flesh-tearing flogging.  Thorns, for a painful, humiliating crown.  Nails, well, we all know what those were for.  A Roman crucifixion was not a nice way to die.

Death:  A spear, an ancient death certificate.  Strips of linen cloth, wrappings for a burial.  Spices, a mixture to help preserve a corpse.  A stone, sealing a coffin/tomb.

Sad, sadistic, and sobering is this story.  And this is the sanitized version.  (Watch “The Passion” if you want to see one truly worthy of its ‘R’ rating.)  Good Friday is a great time to pause and reflect on the terrible suffering Jesus endured on our behalf.  And the fact that He thought we were worth it.

But that’s not the end of the story.  There’s one more egg in the carton.  It’s the one that none of the kids ever wanted to open.  Because there’s nothing in it.

Hope:  An empty egg, an empty tomb.  A Risen Savior!

Don’t you just love a happy ending?  The story IS violent, heart-wrenching and hard to stomach in parts.  But its timeless message is beautiful and simple enough for General Audiences everywhere:

Jesus saves.  Jesus lives.

“When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the cross and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead…” (Acts 13:29-30)

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